Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
After the country’s newly minted lawyers have took their oaths albeit online, for the first time in history due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, mentors and leaders in their profession have taken the opportunity to offer advice.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, through its president Domingo Cayosa, exhorted them to “excel without sacrificing honor.”
“You are new in the legal profession, yet you can excel without sacrificing honor; be brave without being boastful; be dynamic, never indifferent. Lead and lend a helping hand,” the veteran lawyer noted in a statement last week after Supreme Court justices administered the oath to 2,103 Bar passers online.
In the Philippines, the legal profession is a well-respected practice as many lawyers hold significant government posts, notably President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.
However, many lawyers, even from the government side, have recently drawn flak over perceived manipulation of the law to their advantage. The country’s laws have often been twisted or its loopholes exploited to either avoid accountability or worse, weaponize it against certain groups or individuals.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen also took the opportunity provided by the oath taking to denounce the cyberbullying experienced by journalists and netizens who “speak truth to power” and urged the new lawyers to take up the cudgels for the marginalized and the oppressed.
“Our silence when we fall victim or after we serve as accomplices to corrupt acts of the powerful is also our own powerful political act. Our silence maintains the status quo. It also ensures that others will also be victimized. Our silence when we have the ability to speak is in itself a cause of injustice,” Leonen added.
A country where injustice remains prevalent will always need decent and principled lawyers to take on the right side. Filipinos are hopeful that the idealism of the new generation of lawyers that the temptations and corruption that have become embedded in our justice system. May our country’s new lawyers pick the values and role models as they begin their practice.*